“Look at all the friendly people” goes the line of a song way back in my memory. For me, that line, that song, apply to the South. Look at the friendly woman selling me pumpkin bread in the Simon’s Town bakery last year; look at the friendly local postmaster ever eager to assist people in the queue; look at friendly Mr Patel in his café, on his feet all day but always a smile on his lips; look at the friendly Spar cashiers sitting in winter gales until they are blue in the face – but warm inside….

 Look at all the friendly people. I looked and I saw and it made an impression on me. So many people had warned me that it would take me four years to feel integrated into the Cape as far as making friends goes. I am a private person and have lived a hermitage life for many a year. So I did not worry that I would not meet people immediately.

 But I had Jordan! A blonde, smiley baby is a magnet to all people! We met individuals wherever we went: up the many steps to Just Nuisance’s grave several times a week, Jordan’s head peeking from the pouch; down the steep hills and into the lanes to buy our pumpkin bread; to look at the boats from the jetty or to sip a coffee upstairs at The Meeting Place. We became regulars very easily in Simon’s Town.

 Making real friends was indeed harder, I found. Thank goodness for Karoline, a childhood acquaintance, soon to become friend, who took pity on us and introduced us to like-minded people. And thank goodness that worked out! We still see Noel and Belinda for soup and wine evenings, the guinea fowls shouting and the baboons barking.

 But I still knew that I had to take a second step and join a group of sorts. So I signed up Jordan (at the tender age of eight months) and me to Moms and Babes in Plumstead. We drove there once a week to play and meet other moms and babes. It was fun and I made new friends and Jordan found new playmates.

 My husband, Leon-Jacques, joined a fishing league and met guys with rods aged 18 to 80. His membership took us up the West Coast camping and along the East Coast self-catering. It was fun! And I met some of his fishing friends and maybe their partners and babes.

Then I joined two yoga classes. Jordan was old enough to spend a morning or two with a babysitter and I jumped at the chance to stretch my body and clear my mind. I met Viv and Arlene and they changed my life. Carrying a baby on my body meant a pulled sciatica nerve, tight bum muscles and lower back pain. Yoga sorted all of that out for me! And Jordan found a new playmate in Veronica.  

 Our circle started to widen and grow. We began to braai a lot. We looked at our view of the waterfall and False Bay with new eyes – through those of new friends. And then we moved. From house hunting in Somerset West (Leon-Jacques works in, and commutes to, Stellenbosch) we decided we wanted to live in the South. We looked in Glencairn and Simon’s Town for three months and then we found it.

Our little green and white cottage with a garden. It was the garden that sold it to me. Lots of grass and trees; lots of potential to grow an enclave for a child to play in. We are now “meeting” fellow Welcome Glen residents – most of whom are young like us with small children. We feel safe and we get up in the morning to the sound of children’s voices and skateboards and water splashing. We recognize Welcome Glen-ists on Glencairn beach and we see them at our park. We stand next to them at the Spar and hope they don’t see us sipping wine on our stoep every eve!

And all this only 21 months into our Cape existence having moved from KZN. So maybe the next two years will see us happily ensconced in some social group playing darts or cards or poker or whatever they do in the Cape? I for one am happy with the new casual moms and babies group Jordan and I have joined and Leon-Jacques is happy catching sharks off Macassar Beach with his fishing pals.

 “Look at all the friendly people” was written for the South, wasn’t it?

Written by Janis Theron

16 December 2009